State govt cannot intervene for villagers

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GEORGE TOWN: Residents of Kampung Mutiara in Batu Ferringhi are at the end of their rope: they are likely to face eviction without any compensation as the state government cannot intervene in their land dispute with a private landowner. The villagers will lose their homes to the new landowner because no planning permission was submitted to the state government. Because the situation does not involve a developer, the state has no jurisdiction.

This means the issue is purely between the landowner and the residents, said Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari and Parit Buntar MP Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa in a joint statement yesterday. “We object [to] the action of the landowner who is evicting the people without compensation. It is against basic humanitarian values, especially when the people have lived there for decades.

“In line with this stand, the state government has never approved any projects as long as a compensation agreement is not met between the landowners and residents,” they said.

Kampung Mutiara has been in the limelight following news reports that 48 families there are in danger of losing their homes after having lived in the village for over 50 years.

The residents’ troubles began after the new landowner bought the land accommodating the village in 2007 and sought a court order to evict the people.

The court has issued a writ of possession in favour of the landowner, ordering the people to leave.

Mujahid, who is Penang PAS deputy commissioner, and Zairil, the Penang DAP vice-chairman, said it was unfortunate the state cannot interfere, unlike previous cases affecting other villages in Penang.

“The state was successful in helping residents in Kampung Chetty, another village in Batu Ferringhi, before. The residents received low medium-cost flats as compensation following negotiations between the state, elected reps and residents, and the developer. But in Kampung Mutiara’s case, the state has no locus standi,” they said.

Zairil and Mujahid said land laws in the country do not give any rights to squatters even if they have lived for many years on a particular piece of land.

They expressed hope that the Court of Appeal would agree with the residents’ application for a stay of execution so the people would have more time to find a solution to their predicament.

Various parties, including the state government, elected reps and the local village development and security committee have tried to negotiate with the landowner, an individual living in Selangor. However, the landowner refuses to offer compensation to the residents.  — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 16, 2014.